China's new-energy industries contribute to global green transformation, 'overcapacity' hype unfounded: MOFCOM

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Tuesday said that hype about "overcapacity" in China goes against common sense and facts, shows double standards and is a form of trade protectionism.

The rise of China's new-energy industries is built on open competition rather than subsidies. It represents advanced production capacity and makes a huge contribution to easing global inflation, as well as the green transformation, MOFCOM said.

MOFCOM said the accusation that China has "overcapacity" is unfounded. The issue of production capacity should be viewed objectively and it should match global production and demand.

In 2023, Germany sold 80 percent of its auto production internationally. Japan exported approximately 50 percent of its cars, while China's overseas sales of new-energy vehicles (NEVs) accounted for only 12.7 percent of its production. Criticizing China for "overcapacity" is therefore unfounded.

Chinese new-energy products are popular in the international market due to their competitive prices and the urgent global need for green transformation. The NEVs exported from China to Europe are priced lower than European-made models, but still higher than in China so there is no dumping involved, MOFCOM said.

Furthermore, with the global demand for new-energy products continuing to expand, advanced production capacity is not only not excessive but actually insufficient, it added.

MOFCOM also noted that China's advantages in the new-energy industry have been achieved through open competition and continuous technological innovation, with Chinese companies investing in research and development in the new-energy sector for over 20 years.

The industry also benefits from an efficient supply chain, while China's large and competitive market drives rapid application and development of technologies as well as a collaborative approach to foreign investment and automakers.

MOFCOM said the accusation that Chinese industrial subsidies have led to "overcapacity" is unfounded. Industrial subsidies are a common practice worldwide. China's industrial subsidy policy is compliant with WTO rules while those of the US and Europe are even larger in scale.

MOFCOM said that the hype about "overcapacity" is actually a reflection of anxiety from other countries about their own competitiveness. However, trade protectionism will not achieve the desired results and will only hinder global economic recovery and the green transformation.

MOFCOM said that China is willing to deepen cooperation in the new-energy supply chain, and promote technological innovation and industrial development with countries around the world. It will continue to promote opening-up, improve the business environment and share the opportunities from Chinese modernization.

‘Overcapacity’ and ‘weak currency’ are latest US excuses to suppress Chinese exports

In addition to the groundless hype about "overcapacity" regarding exports of China's new-energy products, some Westerners are turning their attention back to China's currency and its depreciation pressure, trying to combine these two things as an excuse for US protectionism to suppress China's exports.

The Wall Street Journal published an article on Saturday, attributing China's export boom to not only "bulging industrial capacity" but also the "lower exchange rate" of China's currency. This ridiculous logic reflects how some American elites have become increasingly hysterical and unscrupulous in their campaign to suppress Chinese enterprises and embrace trade protectionism.

The yuan exchange rate has long been a sensitive issue in China-US relations. Elites in Washington were once enthusiastic about persuading the US government to declare China "a currency manipulator." Currently, although there is no evidence to suggest that discussion of currency manipulation is emerging, media hype about the depreciation of the yuan hasn't stopped, reflecting the strong inertia of a narrow-minded and outdated mentality. 

The central parity rate of the yuan strengthened 69 pips to 7.0994 against the US dollar on Monday, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. The yuan has depreciated since the beginning of this year, when the rate stood at 7.0770 on January 2, but a slight depreciation is normal and won't have much effect on the economy.

Many Asian currencies have been hit this year by the strength of the US dollar. The yen last week weakened to 160 against the US dollar, marking its lowest point since 1990. As multiple Asian currencies continue to depreciate against the US dollar, the yuan has maintained its resilience in the foreign exchange market.

The main reason for the depreciation of Asian currencies is the strength of the US dollar. Asia's central bankers are bracing for more turbulence as the receding prospect of US interest rate cuts in the near future sends shockwaves through regional currencies.

It's ironic that some American elites claim China's "weak currency" is turbocharging China's overseas sales at the expense of other exporting nations, but the fact is that it is the irresponsible US monetary policy that has resulted in Asian currencies' depreciation.

Amid economic uncertainty caused by sluggish global demand, an abnormal fall of a currency is one of the financial risks that will result in capital flight and erode social faith. Few analysts believe that Asian countries want to manipulate their currencies into a steep depreciation. 

A weak currency contributes to higher exports, but if some Americans believe the depreciation of Asian currencies damages the interests of the US economy, then it is not Asia's exports that should be blamed, but the irresponsible US monetary policy.

The yuan's depreciation is mild compared with other major currencies in Asia. The yuan is likely to face renewed depreciation pressure if the US Federal Reserve continues with its irresponsible monetary policy, but China is fully capable of stabilizing the market and keeping the yuan steady at a reasonable and balanced level. 

The resilience of China's currency is underpinned by the country's steady progress in economic development and expanded economic scale in the past several decades.

The US has been unreasonably hyping the false narrative of "overcapacity," and its real purpose is to attack the Chinese economy, especially its export sectors. Some observers believe the "overcapacity" rhetoric has replaced the "currency manipulation" hype as the latest excuse for US protectionism, but we probably face a more complex situation, as some American elites try to combine these two arguments to suppress China's exports.

It is easy to see through their tricks. We hope that the US can restrain the internal rise of trade protectionism and return to the track of free trade.

More than 50 cities in China ease home purchase curbs to boost real estate recovery

More than 50 Chinese cities have adjusted their home purchase policies by adopting measures such as easing purchase restrictions and encouraging trade-ins of urban residential housing to promote home sales and the healthy development of the real estate market.

Only six provinces and municipalities in the country, including Hainan and Tianjin, have not completely lifted previously imposed restrictions. 

Analysts said that the house purchase restriction policy is gradually passing into history. Purchase limits were introduced in the past when housing prices rose too fast. Now that the market is no longer full of speculative demand, the eased purchase restrictions are in line with the law and expectations.

Among the latest moves, Hangzhou, the capital of East China's Zhejiang Province and Xi'an, the capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, announced on Thursday the full removal of all previous restrictions on home purchases. 

Potential buyers in Hangzhou and Xi'an no longer need to meet conditions such as having a local hukou (residence permit) or local social security account, and there is no longer a limit to the number of apartments each person is allowed to buy, local housing administrations announced.

Many real estate brokerages in Hangzhou said that their phones "blew up" with questions about home purchases, after the restriction was lifted.

"Hangzhou's policy will contribute to the overall relaxation of policies in other cities across the country. It is a landmark event for local housing policies, after major changes in the supply and demand relationship of the real estate market," Yan Yuejin, research director at Shanghai-based E-house China R&D Institute, told the Global Times on Sunday.

On Friday, many shares of developers rose by the 10 percent daily ceiling, something that hadn't happened for a long time, showing the continued recovery of market confidence.

In late April, Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, said that it would abolish restrictions on home purchases starting from April 29, including the housing lottery system and purchase qualifications for commercial housing. 

Other provincial capitals, such as Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province and Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, and first-tier cities such as Shenzhen, in South China's Guangdong Province, also moved to ease their policies to support purchases and trade-ins of houses.

Beijing, for example, adjusted its home purchase restriction policy on April 30, the first adjustment in 13 years, which greatly stimulated the city's property market during the May Day holidays.

"I sold more than 10 houses outside the Fifth Ring Road in Beijing, after the city eased home-purchase restrictions from April 30," a sales manager surnamed Feng at the Beijing 5i5j Real Estate Brokerage Co, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Many sales managers canceled their May Day holidays (May 1-5) travel plans to deal with customers, Feng said.

According to a notice released by the Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, local families with a Beijing hukou can buy one additional house outside the Fifth Ring Road, even if they already own two apartments in Beijing.

"Every sales manager took more than 10 groups of prospective buyers each day to see homes during the May Day holidays. There would have been more customers if the eased policy wasn't released on the evening of April 30, as many Beijing residents had made travel plans outside the city or were already on the road," said Feng.

A Beijing resident, who declined to be identified, bought an apartment outside the west Fifth Ring Road in Beijing's suburban Shijingshan District right after the new purchase policy was announced.

"I started renovating the house during the May Day holidays. Our whole family helped buy building materials during the holidays," the Beijing resident told the Global Times on Sunday.

It is expected that the national property market will gradually pick up momentum in the coming weeks, which will accelerate the recovery of the real estate sector, Yan said.

The most recent meeting of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Political Bureau on April 30 called for new measures to support the property sector.

The meeting called for research on policies to reduce housing inventories and improve the quality of newly added housing, noting that efforts should be pursued to establish a new model of the real estate development, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

China sees surge in outbound tourism for May Day holidays as international flight bookings reach record high

China is set to witness explosive growth in outbound tourism during the May Day holidays from May 1 to May 5 as data from major online travel agencies showed a strong surge in overseas tour bookings by Chinese travelers.

International flight bookings for the first day of the May Day holidays reached a record high, increasing by 20 percent compared with 2019 levels. Nearly 100 outbound destinations saw a rise in flight ticket bookings, according to data Chinese travel platform Qunar shared with the Global Times on Wednesday. Hotel booking numbers showed that Chinese tourists are expected to visit 1,035 cities worldwide during the May Day holidays.

The number of air ticket bookings for several visa-free destinations during the May Day holidays surpassed the figures recorded during the same period in 2019. Specifically, flight bookings for Thailand and Malaysia saw an increase of more than 30 percent, while bookings for Singapore and Georgia more than doubled.

Chinese tourists also appear more willing to opt for longer-distance travel during the five-day holiday period. The Middle East and Europe emerged as popular choices for holiday destinations, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt experiencing a more than threefold increase in flight bookings. Similarly, countries like the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Qatar saw a surge of over 50 percent in flight bookings. In Europe, popular destinations such as the UK, Hungary, Ireland, Spain, and Croatia witnessed a doubling of air ticket bookings, according to Qunar data.

Meanwhile, with the Japanese yen hitting a 34-year low against the dollar on Monday, Japan has attracted large numbers of overseas tourists including Chinese visitors. According to Ctrip, Japan will be the top destination for outbound travel during the May Day holidays, with Thailand and South Korea following closely behind. Airbnb data also indicates that Japan is the most searched destination. According to Qunar, the top 10 destinations for the May Day holidays are Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the US, the Philippines, and Australia. Bookings for flights to Japan saw a significant increase of over 60 percent compared with the same period in 2019, making it the destination with the largest growth among the top 10.

The rise in outbound travel has been facilitated by a surge in international flights. China Southern Airlines announced plans to add over 900 flights from April 30 to May 6, with total planned operation of nearly 19,000 flights. China Eastern Airlines has also expanded its international and regional routes, including flights from various Chinese cities to destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and Russia, among others.

Xi's visit to France can build friendship, instill confidence: Chinese envoy

The upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to France holds profound historical significance. It will be a journey to showcase friendship, instill confidence and lead cooperation, Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye told a press briefing on Monday.

At the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron of France, President Aleksandar Vučić of the Republic of Serbia and President Tamás Sulyok and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary, President Xi will pay state visits to France, Serbia and Hungary from May 5 to 10, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Monday.

This marks President Xi's return to France and Europe after a gap of five years. It is also Xi's first state visit of the year and the highlight of celebrations for the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Lu said.

The visit holds significant importance for advancing the development of China-France and China-EU relations in the new era and influencing the evolution of the international landscape, the Chinese envoy noted.

Lu pointed out that China-France relations were nurtured by previous leaders such as Chairman Mao Zedong and General Charles de Gaulle.

Over the past 60 years, guided by the spirit of independence, mutual understanding, foresight, and mutually beneficial cooperation, China-France relations have weathered the changing international landscape, he noted.

They have consistently remained at the forefront of China's relations with Western countries, demonstrating increasing strategic maturity and stability, and exerting profound influence on great power relations and global dynamics, Lu said.

"Xi's visit, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, will provide an opportunity to revisit the spirit of China-France cooperation and chart the future of bilateral relations from a historical and strategic perspective," the Chinese diplomat said.

France is a core member of the EU, and China-France relations are an important component and strong engine of China-Europe relations. China has always viewed China-Europe relations from a strategic height and a long-term perspective, considering Europe as a comprehensive strategic partner and an important force in a multipolar world, Lu said.

During Xi's visit, there will be comprehensive and in-depth strategic communication with Macron on China-France and China-Europe relations.

This will encourage France to uphold strategic autonomy and openness in cooperation, and drive Europe to form a more independent, objective, and friendly understanding of China.

It will also resist negative trends such as "de-risking" and "reduced dependence" on China, ensuring that China-France relations continue to lead China-Europe relations toward stability and progress, Lu said.

China and France should accelerate cooperation in emerging fields such as artificial intelligence, the digital economy, green manufacturing, and sustainable development, the ambassador said.

Furthermore, they should further promote agricultural cooperation, represented by "from French farms to Chinese tables," and build closer ties in terms of industry chains, capital flows, and personnel exchanges.

It is believed that President Xi's visit will inject new impetus into cooperation in various fields between China and France, guiding both sides to explore new areas and avenues of cooperation, he said.

In response to questions about the common ground where China and France could work together in addressing hotspot issues such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Ukraine crisis, Lu noted that on the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, China and France have consistently held similar positions, both advocating for a negotiated resolution through the "two-state solution," supporting an immediate ceasefire, protecting civilians, and alleviating humanitarian situations.

As two major powers from the East and the West and responsible great powers, China and France will continue to maintain close communication and coordination on international and regional hotspot issues.

They will actively uphold the international system centered around the UN and the international order based on international law, jointly promote negotiations and dialogue to resolve regional conflicts and turbulence, and work together to build a peaceful, stable, and secure world, Lu said.

On the Ukraine crisis, the Chinese government has maintained an objective, neutral, and balanced stance since the beginning of the crisis, without favoring any party. It is because of this stance that China can engage in dialogue with various parties involved in the crisis, including Russia, Ukraine, Europe, and the US, Lu noted.

"We have consistently advocated for peace talks and dialogue, and opposed any country adding fuel to the fire of this crisis. The conflicts and wars that have arisen in today's world are detrimental to the progress and prosperity of human society," he said.

The endpoint of any war is the negotiating table, and it is better to return to the negotiating table early rather than engage in a conflict where both sides end up losing before resuming talks, Lu stressed.

Shortly after the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, Xi clarified China's position at a video summit with Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, outlining the "four principles." President Xi later called for joint efforts in four areas and shared three observations.

In February 2023, the Chinese government released a position paper on the political resolution of the Ukraine issue, presenting a 12-point proposal. The proposal includes not only general principles such as respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and adhering to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter but also a roadmap, including ceasefire, initiation of talks, protection of civilians and prisoners of war, guaranteeing food shipments, and the safety of nuclear power plants.

It also includes ideas for the post-war European security architecture. If Europe and France carefully read the Chinese document and truly understand China's position, they will find that China's proposals are in line with the current situation and provide a feasible path for the peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis, Lu said.

US urged to honor words after Blinken concludes 'candid, substantive and constructive' meetings in China

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's three-day visit to China, during which he had extensive exchanges with Chinese officials, was deemed by Chinese experts as "generally positive and playing a role in stabilizing relations between China and the US," but observers also believed such a visit by itself cannot fundamentally change the current trend of China-US ties.

Experts have noted that the five-point consensus reached by the two countries during Blinken's visit suggested that China has pushed back against US pressure, and helped push both countries to work toward improving relations in line with the consensus made by the top leaders of the two countries in San Francisco.

The key challenge in China-US ties lies in the US still holding the wrong perception of viewing China as a rival or enemy, rather than a partner. The US is currently struggling to break free from its preconceived notions about China, leading to difficulties in setting the right tone for Washington's policies toward Beijing and managing the US-China relationship effectively. As a result, Chinese experts urged the US to show the courage to accurately identify and correct its misconceptions about China.

'Candid' talks

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday evening that talks with Blinken during his visit to China were "candid, substantive and constructive."

During a courtesy meeting with Blinken on Friday afternoon, Chinese President Xi Jinping elaborated on China's authoritative position on China-US relations and proposed guidance, said Yang Tao, director-general of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs of the China's Foreign Ministry, while briefing the media on Blinken's visit on Friday evening.

Xi met with Blinken on Friday, and stressed China is willing to cooperate with the US, but cooperation should be a two-way street. "China is not afraid of competition, but competition should be about common progress, not a zero-sum game," Xi said.

China and the US should be partners rather than rivals; help each other succeed rather than hurt each other; seek common ground and reserve differences rather than engage in vicious competition; and honor words with actions rather than say one thing but do another, said Xi.

Xi said China is committed to non-alliance, and the US should not create small blocs, adding that each side can have its friends and partners, it should not target, oppose or harm the other.

Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Chinese foreign minister, held talks with Blinken on Friday in Beijing, with the two sides reaching a five-point consensus based on a comprehensive exchange of views.

First, both sides agreed to continue to work hard to stabilize and develop China-US relations in accordance with the guidance of the two heads of state. Second, both sides agreed to maintain high-level exchanges and contacts at all levels.

Third, the two sides announced that they would hold the first meeting of the China-US intergovernmental dialogue on artificial intelligence, continue to advance consultations on the principles guiding China-US relations, hold a new round of China-US consultations on Asia-Pacific affairs and China-US maritime affairs, and continue consular consultations. The two countries' anti-drug working group will hold a senior officials meeting.

Fourth, the two sides will take measures to expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, welcome students from each other's countries and work together for the success of the 14th China-US Tourism Leadership Summit to be held in Xi'an in May. Fifth, the two sides will maintain consultations on international and regional hotspot issues and strengthen communication between the special envoys of the two sides.

From the perspective of advancing the implementation of the agreement made by the two leaders in San Francisco, Blinken's visit has achieved some positive results, with the five-point consensus reached by both sides essentially continuing the consensus reached by the two leaders in San Francisco, Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times.

Wu noted that judging from the previous agenda of the visit released by the US, Blinken did not achieve his expected goals. This reflected the different approaches of China and the US in handling bilateral relations.

The signals sent by the US before Blinken's departure indicated that Washington had wanted to reset the agenda for China-US relations. However, the five-point consensus reached by both sides showed that the US attempt did not succeed and China's efforts helped push the two countries to go back to implementing the consensus made by the two leaders in San Francisco, said Wu.

Blinken would also reportedly ask Beijing to avoid taking "provocative" measures during next month's inauguration of Lai Ching-te, who was elected as Taiwan's regional leader in January, AFP quoted a US official as saying last week. The US diplomat also planned to raise its "deep concerns regarding the PRC's support for Russia's defense industrial base, as well as its human rights abuses and unfair economic and trade practices," according to previous media reports.

Although the consensus between the two sides on effectively managing their relationship seems to have been largely reached throughout the latest high-level interactions between China and the US, some experts are concerned about whether the US can guarantee that it will effectively manage differences and expand cooperation through action, especially when the US is in the election year.

"If the US is unable to follow the consensus and fulfill its promises, and even further seeks to contain China due to election politics, encircle China, tarnish China's image, and interfere in China's internal affairs, it is very likely to have a negative impact on the future trajectory of China-US relations," Diao Daming, a professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times.

Challenges ahead

At the close of his three-day visit to China, Blinken told reporters in a news briefing on Friday that he warned China to "stop exporting materials that allow Russia to rebuild its industrial base," and also told CNN that Washington has seen evidence of Chinese attempts to "influence and arguably interfere" with the upcoming US elections.

Those remarks are all aimed at the domestic audience in the US, as both issues are often used by the Biden administration as political fodder to hype China-US relations in domestic politics in order to avoid appearing weak on China, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times, noting that as the election approaches, the bilateral relationship will become more fragile.

This view was echoed by Wu. "I think the development of China-US relations in the future will continue to be full of ups and downs, and it is unlikely to truly stabilize or significantly improve. Especially in the year of the 2024 election, the Biden administration will need to show toughness toward China and exert pressure on China to cater to its own interests," said Wu.

Last week, Biden called on the US Trade Representative to consider tripling the existing Section 301 tariff rate on Chinese steel and aluminum. Earlier this month, he also urged the banning of imports of Chinese-made electric cars to the US.

Biden's moves are aimed at appealing to certain groups of voters in the US, said Wu, who predicted that there will be more actions aimed at showing toughness and putting pressure on China. "If Biden feels that his election prospects are not good, he may intensify his efforts to play the 'China card'," Wu noted.

In the first half of this year, China-US relations can maintain a fragile and unreliable stability, and there will be greater fluctuations in the second half of the year, said Wu.

China, Pakistan should engage in greater counter-terrorism cooperation to combat hostile forces: Pakistani former FM

The terrorist attacks that killed Chinese nationals clearly showed that there are hostile forces seeking to disrupt the collaboration between China and Pakistan, Pakistani former foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri warned, emphasizing that only by promoting greater coordination in counter-terrorism efforts between the two countries can such forces be restrained from succeeding in the future.

Kasuri made these remarks in Beijing on Wednesday while leading a delegation from the Understanding China Forum, a Pakistan-based think tank, on a visit to China.

"The terrorist attack killing Chinese obviously means that there are forces who do not wish Pakistan and China to work together," Kasuri said in response to a question raised by Global Times reporter during a press conference. His remarks followed a suicide bombing in late March that claimed the lives of five Chinese engineers and a local driver working on the Dasu hydropower project in Pakistan. Some Chinese experts believed that this incident was a copy of the July 2021 Dasu terror attack, in which nine Chinese nationals and four Pakistani people were killed.

Kasuri noted that the security situation in Pakistan has deteriorated in recent years, and unfortunately, there are third countries that find it very useful to use those rebel elements within Pakistan to disrupt the bilateral relation between Pakistan and China. "They are hostile to Pakistan, to China, and are not happy with China-Pakistan cooperation," Kasuri said.

"Therefore, it's logical that Pakistan and China should pull their resources to defeat such forces, and that can happen by greater intelligence cooperation, as well as by all other means that are required, which is in line with the interests of Pakistan and China, and our bilateral relations," the Pakistani former foreign minister said.

In response to the latest terrorist attack, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said during a regular press conference on March 27 that China and Pakistan have the resolve and capability to make the terrorists pay the price. "No attempt to sabotage China-Pakistan cooperation will ever succeed," Lin said.

Kasuri expressed his appreciation for the remarks made by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, adding that it also underlines the fact that Pakistan and China should not allow such hostile forces to succeed in future, and that can only happen with much greater coordination between the two countries.

"If we were to improve our coordination, then we'll be able to take care. Otherwise, these forces will not give up," Kasuri told the Global Times, noting that the issue of counter-terrorism cooperation will be among the prominent topics in future high-level exchanges between the two countries.

During the Pakistani delegation's visit to China, which was hosted by the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy, the members also met with Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Liu Jinsong on Tuesday. Pakistan reiterated its traditional support for China on international issues during the meeting, particularly on the issues of South China Sea, as well as on the one-China principle, Kasuri told the press conference.

Liu noted that the Chinese side has always valued the traditional friendship between China and Pakistan, and is committed to promoting the building of a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era, according to a statement released by the Department of Asian Affairs on its official WeChat account on Wednesday. China is willing to work together with Pakistan to coordinate development and security efforts, Liu said.

The Pakistani delegation and the Chinese side also reached consensus on further trade, agriculture, water resources protection cooperation, as well as people-to-people exchanges during the visit.

China resolutely opposes US' deployment of mid-range missile system in Asia-Pacific region in bid to seek unilateral military advantage: Chinese FM

China strongly opposes the US deploying medium-range ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific and strengthening forward deployment at China's doorstep to seek unilateral military advantage, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in response to US Army Pacific's announcement of its successful deployment of a new capability for the first time, a move believed by some to help bolster deterrence against China.

The US Army Pacific announced on Monday local time on its website that it has deployed its new Mid-Range Capability missile system, also known as the Typhon Weapons System, to Northern Luzon, the Philippines, as part of the annual bilateral exercises between the Philippine Army and the US Army Pacific, dubbed Salaknib, which began on April 8. 

Such a move would be the first US deployment of a ground-based launcher since it withdrew in 2019 from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between the US and then-Soviet Union that banned all land-based missiles, conventional and nuclear, that could travel between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers, according to media report. 

Some commentators have said that the move could help bolster deterrence against China. 

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said during a Thursday briefing that China noted the announcement and expresses grave concern over the move.

China strongly opposes the US deploying medium-range ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific and strengthening forward deployment at China's doorstep to seek unilateral military advantage, Lin said, noting the US' move exacerbates tensions in the region and increases the risk of misjudgment and miscalculation. 

We urge the US to earnestly respect other countries' security concerns, stop stoking military confrontation, stop undermining peace and stability in the region, and take concrete actions to reduce strategic risks, Lin said. 

The Philippines needs to see and be mindful of what the US is truly after and the consequence of going along with the US on deploying medium-range ballistic missiles. The Philippines needs to think twice about being a cat's paw for the US at the expense of its own security interests, and stop sliding down the wrong path, Lin added. 

According to the Naval News, the new capability is being deployed for the first time in the First Island Chain for joint military exercises in the northern Philippines. Typhon's missiles can cover not only the entire Luzon Strait but also reach the Chinese coast and various People's Liberation Army bases in the South China Sea. 

The US Army said last year that it had conducted a number of successful tests of the system, which has four trailer-based launchers and other supporting equipment, along with Tomahawk and SM-6 missiles.

Some observers said that the US' deployment of the Typhon system in the Philippines will severely disrupt freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, since this missile system is an offensive military platform. They added that the provocative intent of the US, as an external power, is very clear, and obviously aimed at China. It is an attempt to disrupt the peace and stability of the South China Sea by exacerbating tensions in the region, and seeks to give the US a greater military presence in the region.

Other observers said that this missile system is more about the US exerting more military influence on the Philippines by turning the country into a veritable military base and further hijacking it, and the move will also inevitably trigger an arms race in the region. 

However, it is worth noting that such outdated missile system will only pose a limited threat to China, and its political significance outweighs its military value. 

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense, also said on April 12 that the US push to deploy mid-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region is a dangerous move that will seriously threaten the security of regional countries and disrupt regional peace and stability. China firmly opposes it and will resolutely take countermeasures, he added. 

"We urge the US to earnestly respect the security concerns of other countries and to stop undermining regional peace and stability," Wu said. 

Number of entries and exits in China exceeds 141 million in Q1, a year-on-year increase of 117.8%: NIA

The National Immigration Administration (NIA) announced at a press conference on Thursday that in the first quarter, immigration management agencies nationwide processed over 141 million traveler trips, a year-on-year increase of 117.8 percent.

Among them, trips by residents from the Chinese mainland reached 69.5 million, while trips by residents of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and the island of Taiwan reached 59.1 million, year-on-year increases of 114.9 percent and 100.4 percent, respectively. Those by foreign nationals reached 13.1 million, a year-on-year increase of 305.2 percent.

In the first quarter, the NIA introduced a series of immigration and entry-exit management policy measures, including continuously optimizing regional visa-free entry, visa-free transit, and port visa policies, implementing five measures to facilitate foreigners visiting China. This expanded the options for visa-free entry for nationals of certain countries to South China's Hainan Province, supporting East China's Fujian Province in building a cross-Straits integration development demonstration zone. It also issued individual tourist endorsements for travel to and from Hong Kong and Macao for eligible individuals in Xi'an in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province and Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province.

According to an immigration administration spokesperson, the number of foreigners arriving in China in the first quarter increased more than threefold compared to the same period in 2023.

The countries with the most residents coming to China included US, Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK. Other visitors included residents from neighboring countries such as Russia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Mongolia, Laos, as well as East Asian and Southeast Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Foreigners were mainly visiting for tourism, accounting for over 30 percent of arrivals, followed by business, visiting relatives and friends, work, and study.

After gradually relaxing entry restrictions in the country, the number of foreign groups inquiring about inbound tourism has been steadily increasing, according to the manager of Love Fan International Travel Agency based in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, on Thursday. "Now, we can receive inquiries from more than thirty groups in a day. The main countries of these groups include Thailand, Singapore, the UK and some European countries."

According to the manager, the most popular cities and provinces for inbound tourism include Zibo, Chengdu, Yunnan, Xinjiang, and Tianshui which has recently become a popular tourist destination, with its many travel videos online receiving a high volume of comments about the city.

"The changes in entry policies and the convenience of visas have given us more confidence and opportunities in the international tourism sector. From what we understand, a big boom will come in the second half of this year," she noted.

On July 26, 2023, China resumed the 15-day visa-free policy for ordinary passport holders from Singapore and Brunei for business, tourism, visiting relatives, and transit. Later, on December 1, 2023, and March 14, 2024, China successively implemented unilateral visa-free policies for ordinary passport holders from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Malaysia, Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg. The China-Thailand visa exemption agreement officially took effect on March 1, 2024.

To date, a total of 989,000 foreign nationals from the above-mentioned 15 countries have entered China visa-free, showing an overall upward trend.

A netizen from Thailand traveled to Beijing, and shared his story with the Global Times on Thursday. He said he was very excited after watching some YouTubers queuing for spicy hot pot in Tianshui, so he joined a tour group to come to China.

His first stop was Chengdu, where he visited the must-see giant pandas. Then he followed the group to Tianshui, although he didn't get to try the most popular restaurant as seen online, the taste of the food there was memorable enough for him.

For the last stop, he arrived in Beijing and saw the bustling capital of China. He plans to bring his family back for another trip in the second half of the year. "China has a huge variety of delicious dishes and breathtaking scenery. I hope my family will love it here too," he said.

On January 11, the NIA introduced five measures to facilitate foreign nationals coming to China, further relaxing the conditions for foreign nationals applying for port visas in China. The NIA also implemented 24-hour transit without border inspection procedures, providing foreign nationals with convenient visa extension, replacement, reissuance, and re-entry visa application services, simplifying the application materials for foreign nationals applying for visas in China, and strengthening the promotion and implementation of policy measures.

Since the implementation of the policy, a total of 211,000 foreign nationals have entered China through port visa applications; a total of 253,000 foreign nationals in China have applied for visa extension, replacement, reissuance, and residence permits, making it more convenient for foreign nationals to come to and stay in China, and the immigration management agencies have provided more efficient management and services for foreign nationals in China.

"During my trip, I was truly impressed by the warmth and efficiency of China's policies aimed at making travel easier for foreigners," said David, a Serbian traveler who just wrapped up his trip in Beijing in late March. "From transportation to payment methods, everything was designed to make our experience seamless," he told the Global Times on Thursday.

He highlighted the convenience of using apps to book taxis and make payments on his phone, which eliminated the need to constantly withdraw cash from the bank and also alleviated concerns about losing money. "The shopping payment system in China is incredibly convenient, something I never would have imagined before my trip," he said.

The People's Bank of China, Ministry of Commerce, and State Administration of Foreign Exchange have introduced new policy measures aimed at facilitating easier payment for foreign visitors.

The notice, issued on Wednesday, comes in response to the growing demand for diverse payment services in the commercial sector, aligning with the country's ongoing efforts to enhance high-quality engagement with the global community.

With a focus on improving payment convenience for various groups, mainly foreign visitors and the elderly, the notice targets key areas such as bank card acceptance, cash payments, mobile payments, account services and publicity efforts.

Additionally, in the first quarter of this year, national immigration management agencies investigated over 10,000 cases of crimes that obstructed immigration management, apprehended over 14,000 criminal suspects, of which over 12,000 were subjected to criminal coercive measures, with 1,785 handled through administrative measures. A total of 213 criminal gangs were investigated, 53 transit points were dismantled, and 377 vessels involved in criminal cases were seized.

Officials reported that 200 drug cases involving 256 individuals were investigated, including 38 cases involving over 10,000 grams of illicit substances, with a total seizure of 2.5 tons of various drugs and 135.6 tons of drug-making materials. 265 firearms were seized, and the value of smuggled goods intercepted amounted to 1.1 billion yuan ($150 million), the administration announced.